Graduate Associates

Inigo Chotirawe Acosta


Inigo Acosta (he/him) is a doctoral student in cultural anthropology and Southeast Asian studies. Originally from Thailand and the Philippines, his research interests encompass plantation economies and agricultural systems in Mindanao, Philippines. He has a particular interest in differing cultural perspectives and valuations of land as an item of exchange. During his master’s degree studies, he used an ethnohistory framework to evaluate the impact of the 100-year-old Del Monte pineapple plantation in Bukidnon through qualitative interviews with former Del Monte employees and native/Indigenous inhabitants of the province.

He received a BA in international relations from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and an MA in anthropology as a George Washington Presidential Fellow.

Kathleen Alfin


Kathleen Alfin is a graduate student in the history department focusing on African history. Her primary research interests revolve around Liberian-U.S. military relations during the early 20th century, in particularly during the First and Second World Wars.

In addition to African history, she is also interested in environmental history, especially the influence that militaries and warfare have had on the environment.

She has a bachelor of arts in history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master of science in international relations with a concentration in regional studies of Africa and the Middle East from Troy State University.

Miranda Alksnis


Miranda Alksnis is a first-year PhD student in English at UW-Madison. She completed her undergraduate study at the University of Toronto. She studies ecocriticism and the narrative, literary, and discursive modes of the Anthropocene.

Danya Al-Saleh


Danya Al-Saleh is a PhD student in geography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research interests include higher education, knowledge production, the oil and gas industry, and feminist ethnographic methodologies.

Her doctoral research focuses on the internationalization of U.S. higher education through branch campuses in the Arabian Peninsula, specifically in Qatar. Through this research, she is examining the shifting relationship between universities and the oil and gas industry in the realm of engineering education and research. She also has conducted research on the role of the American University in Cairo in Cairo’s uneven urban development through a historical geographic study of the university’s 2008 move to its New Cairo campus.

Murilo Alves Zacareli

Environment and Resources

Murilo Alves Zacareli is pursuing a doctoral degree in environment and resources at the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. His research looks at Native and non-Native engagements with fossil fuel developments in the Upper Midwest, as well as science and technology issues by addressing social and environmental injustices linked to oil pipelines in the states of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Murilo’s research interests include Native and non-Native grassroots movements, social and environmental justice, science and technology, fossil fuel developments, social-ecological systems, collective action, natural resources use and management, ecology of watersheds and wetlands, wild rice lakes, regulation and governance.

Tessa Archambault


Tessa Archambault is a PhD student in French literature at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research interests include ecocritical readings of French and Francophone film, novels, and theatre. She focuses on analyses of works from both the postcolonial and late colonial era while drawing connections to contemporary literature and film. Her dissertation deals with how colonialism has shaped dominant perceptions of nature in the French-speaking world and the ways in which literature and narrative unsettle or question those perceptions. She draws on critical theory from a range of disciplines including feminist studies, postcolonial and decolonial theory, political science and sociology.

Tessa holds a BA in French and theatre from the University of Minnesota and a MA in French literature from UW-Madison. Additional professional interests include teaching French as a second language as well as literature/culture-centered foreign language learning.

Abby Armstrong Check

Art History

Abby Armstrong Check (she/her/hers) is a PhD student in the art history department. Her research focuses mostly on the study of religious architecture, urbanism, and the medieval built environment of western Europe and the Mediterranean of the 11th to 16th century. She is also interested in issues of patronage, gender studies, prosopography, and the material culture of the medieval world.

Abby earned her MA in art history and criticism from UW-Milwaukee. She also holds a BS in EAA English education, BA in art history, and holds a lifetime Wisconsin educator license for high school English education.

Aida Arosoaie

Cultural Anthropology

Aida is a PhD student in cultural anthropology at UW-Madison and her key research interest is the relation between religion and the production of spaces and landscapes in Southeast Asia, with a focus on Indonesia.

Aida holds a BA in politics and Hindi from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and a MSc in strategic studies from Nanyang Technological University Singapore (NTU). She is interested in photography and is committed to being a socially responsible scholar.

Meg Baker


Meg Baker (she/her/hers) is a master’s student in the agroecology program. Her interests include medicinal plants, Indigenous ways of knowing, food sovereignty and decolonial agricultural movements, and participatory approaches and community-engaged research. The connections she made with people as an environmental education volunteer for Peace Corps Mexico shaped the way she approaches work with diverse communities.

Her master’s work, co-designed and implemented with local nonprofits and community members, focuses on expanding and preserving Indigenous medicinal plant knowledge in the Ch’orti’ region of eastern Guatemala with an emphasis on climate resilient plants.

Erin Barnes Lowe

Environment and Resources

Erin is a PhD student in the Nelson Institute’s Environment and Resources Program. Her research interests are broadly centered on how to achieve transitions to more just and sustainable agroecosystems.

Current research projects include determining how floral diversity impacts pollinators and crop pollination and understanding stakeholder perspectives on how changes in cultural and governance structures may provide opportunities for transition to grass-based animal agriculture and integrated crop-livestock production.

Erin received a BA in biology and environmental studies from Swarthmore College and a master’s in agroecology and entomology from UW-Madison.

Nicole Bennett


Nicole Bennett is a literary studies PhD student in the English department. She has long benefited from public higher education, attending a California community college before receiving her BA from UC Berkeley and her MA from CSU Long Beach. Her master’s thesis examined depictions of waste in three postmodern and contemporary American novels set in Los Angeles, and her research interests remain focused on post-WWII urban American fiction and narratives concerning pollution, contamination, toxicity, trash, and disposability.

Adrián Bermúdez Pérez

Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies

Adrián Bermúdez Pérez (he/him) is a master’s student in the Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies program. His broader research interests revolve around the environmental history of hurricanes in the Caribbean. More specifically, the intersections of race and the environment through this history of hurricanes in Puerto Rico. For his MA thesis, Adrián will focus on a historical and comparative analysis of the ways that hurricanes have affected the social, political, and economic realities in the history of Puerto Rico.

Adrián was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He completed his bachelor’s in history, economics, and international studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Kristen Billings

Community and Environmental Sociology

Kristen Billings (she/her/hers) is a PhD student in the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology. Her current research investigates the environmental impacts of militarism and situates resistance to U.S. military pollution and occupation within anti-imperial and abolitionist struggles. More broadly, her research interests include state violence, migrant justice, climate colonialism, and environmental narratives. Prior to starting graduate school, she worked as a communications associate for an immigration advocacy nonprofit in New York.

Megan Binkley


Megan Binkley (she/her/hers) is a doctoral student in archaeology, with community engaged scholarship and geography doctoral minors. Originally from Wisconsin, her research interests include working with community partners to identify and map Ho-Chunk Nation travel routes, villages, and earthworks in existence during the 1600s. She has a particular interest in working with community partners to coauthor new narratives about human relationships with Midwestern and Great Lakes Basin landscapes and in contributing to the push to establish archaeology as a postcolonial, community-based discipline.

She received a BA in anthropology and environmental studies also from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is participating in the University of Wisconsin-Madison anthropology PhD program as a graduate fellow.

Sarah E. Bruno


Sarah Bruno is from the south side of Chicago. She is a PhD candidate culminating her coursework in the cultural anthropology program.

Her research intersections are hip hop, dance, diaspora, and disaster — more specifically Puerto Rico, Blackness, performance, and affect. Her doctoral work focuses on these intersections in lieu of Hurricane Maria and the process of recovery post-disaster socially and environmentally.

Bruno is a UW alum with undergraduate degrees in Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies and Spanish Literature. Currently, Bruno hosts Weaponizing Joy workshops on campus where she is able to use art and affect theory to address undergraduate Badgers’ mental health. These aid in her theorizations concerning how Black women feel and heal.

Jimmy Camacho

Planning and Landscape Architecture

Jimmy Taitano Camacho is a graduate student pursuing a PhD in land policy and Indigenous methodologies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is particularly interested in understanding how Indigenous peoples across Oceania are resisting, struggling with, and decolonizing dominant property regimes and institutions.

His dissertation examines the Chamorro Land Trust (CLT), an institution created by I Liheslaturan Guåhan (the Guam Legislature). Enacted in 1975, the CLT’s purpose is to return tano (land) to Chamorros — the Indigenous people of Guåhan (Guam) — and ensure they have tano in Guåhan forever. Jimmy’s work grapples with the imposition and circumstances of United States colonialism and militarism across Oceania and in Guåhan, one of the few remaining colonies in the world that is recognized by the United Nations.

He draws on the field of critical Indigenous studies, feminist and queer theory, and Indigenous planning, an emerging and distinct scholarly discipline and practice.

Tracy Campbell


Tracy Campbell (she/her/hers) is a PhD candidate in the Department of Agronomy, where her research focuses on the intersection of land management, climate change, and water quality within agroecosystems. Through her work, Tracy incorporates both ecosystem modeling and fieldwork to evaluate management strategies for improved groundwater quality across the Wisconsin Central Sands region of the state. Broadly, Tracy is interested in exploring how we can transform our current system of agriculture to further promote an array of ecosystem services. Tracy holds a BS in biology from the University of Missouri, Columbia, and an MS in agroecology from UW-Madison.

John Canfield


John Canfield is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology. He is interested in issues ranging from agriculture to conservation. His research has explored the role of corporate forms and financialization in the rise of industrial agriculture. Currently, he is exploring the community responses to a rewilding initiative in rural Montana. He is also analyzing the power structures in the corporate network of industrial hog production. Prior to Wisconsin, he received a BA in philosophy and environmental studies from Sewanee: The University of the South and an MS in rural sociology from Auburn University.

Sheamus Cavanaugh

Environment and Resources

Sheamus Cavanaugh is a PhD student in the Nelson Institute working with Dr. Larry Nesper in the Department of Anthropology. His main research interests are Native American treaty rights in the Great Lakes region, environmental anthropology, political ecology, agricultural cooperatives, and development.

He currently works at the Farley Center for Peace, Justice and Sustainability at their Farm Incubator serving primarily minority and immigrant farmers. He also works with the Intertribal Maple Syrup Producers Cooperative, a group of Native American maple producers interested in providing technical assistance to beginning, small, and large producers, while addressing issues such as barriers to land access and sustainable harvesting methods.

Marina Cavichiolo Grochocki

Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies

Marina received her BA in Latin in 2018 and her MA in letters in 2019, both from the Federal University of Paraná in Brazil. She is now a graduate student in the classical and ancient Near Eastern studies department. Her research focuses on bucolic landscape in ancient literature and its changes in different authors.

Minseo Cho


Coming from South Korea, Minseo Cho (he/him/his) is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology. His broad interests concern the historical transformation of the welfare state in the Anthropocene, the era when the ecological limit of the regime of social security coupled with a capitalist economic growth is increasingly manifested. Specifically, he is investigating the knowledge politics over how to define, identify, and measure the efficacy of the universal basic income in policy experiment laboratories. In addition to this, he is working on a project about how ecological risks (dubbed as “Green Swan”) are represented, evaluated, and translated in financial markets.

Doron Darnov


Doron Darnov is a graduate student in the English department. His primary research focuses on “planetary humanities” — the intersection of astronomy, space travel, and environmental justice. When not watching rockets leave orbit, he also enjoys watching baseballs leave orbit (especially during Red Sox games).

Barbara Decre

Environment and Resources

Barbara Decre is a PhD student in the Nelson Institute and her research focuses on agroforestry practices in Wisconsin. Her interdisciplinary work looks into the non-economic motivations behind their adoption on farms and pays attention to aspects such as culture, community, local history, and personal preferences and their role in the decision-making process.

Additionally, she is interested in studying how community-based organizations help women access land for their practice of agroforestry. To share all of these stories with other farmers as well as with the wider community, she relies participatory methodologies and story-telling tools and works to create engaging and informative narratives.

Tabitha Faber


Tabitha Faber is a PhD student in botany interested in the relationships between plants and humans, especially in relation to food and health sovereignty. Her dissertation research focuses on traditional knowledge, identification, and connections to epazote, a traditional plant food and medicine native to Latin America. The aim of her research is to partner with holders of this knowledge to revise the established taxonomy of epazote and its relatives to reflect these cultural connections. Tabitha received a BS in ecology, evolution, and biodiversity from the University of Michigan, where she researched how human activities have impacted populations of blue flag iris throughout the state.

Michael Feinberg

Art History

Michael Feinberg is a PhD student and dissertation fellow in the art history department. Michael’s research has engaged with a multifarious range of topics including Euro-American depictions of Native Americans as well as of the American frontier, Paul Gauguin’s visit to Tahiti, and Chicago’s Columbian Exposition. His current interests pertain to the intersection of French and American visual culture during the long nineteenth century. He is especially intrigued by depictions of colonial and metropolitan “spaces” in addition the portrayal of race, gender, and sexuality of Euro-American and “non-Euro-American” subjects.

Nicole Fischer

German, Nordic, and Slavic

In 2016, Nicole Fischer graduated from the University of Regensburg. Her majors were German, physical education, and English as part of her teacher training. In 2012, she received an MA in German studies from Vanderbilt University (Nashville). Her thesis focused on Novalis, his Heinrich von Ofterdingen and the philosophy of nature of the German epoch of Romanticism.

Her interest in environmental humanities has guided her to pursue a PhD at UW- Madison with a future project that will view German literature through an ecocritical lens. Furthermore, she will complete a minor in the field of SLA and a Certificate in Environmental Humanities.

In her freetime, she loves cross country skiing, biking, reading and spending time with her husband and dog.

Ana Fochesatto

Environment and Resources

Ana Fochesatto is a PhD student in the Environment and Resources Program at the Nelson Institute and a research assistant in Dr. Adena Rissman’s People, Institutions, and Ecosystems (PIE) Lab. Ana’s research interests lie at the intersection of food, identity, and justice. She is currently researching stakeholder perspectives and policy for transitioning to a just and equitable grass-based farm system in the Midwest. She holds a BA in anthropology and political science and an MA in anthropology with a concentration in community and economic development.

Juan C. Franco


Juan C. Franco is a Colombian historian who is completing a PhD in Latin American history at UW-Madison. He is interested in development and post-development issues specifically related to rural development.

Sara Gabler Thomas

Literary Studies

Sara Gabler Thomas is a doctoral candidate in literary studies. Her research spans 20th and 21st century literature and culture of the archipelagic Americas. She is especially interested in the affective dimensions of the weather in Caribbean literature alongside representations of indigeneity and diaspora.

Jesse Gant


I am a PhD candidate in the Department of History — my interests are in 19th century United States politics and culture, with specialities in African American and Western history. My dissertation looks at the role western black activists had in the making of the Republican Party during the 1850s and 1860s.

In 2013, I published Wheel Fever: How Wisconsin Became a Great Bicycling State, which examined the early origins of bicycling in the Badger State during the last half of the 19th century. An exhibit based on the book can be found on permanent display at Old World Wisconsin. An additional exhibit inspired by the book called “Shifting Gears: A Cyclical History of Bicycling in the Badger State” opened in Madison and Appleton in 2015.

Kuhelika Ghosh


Kuhelika Ghosh is a literary studies PhD student in the English department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She completed her undergraduate study at UCLA and her honors thesis examined the potential ethics and politics of the cosmopolitan subject in a posthuman narrative. Her current research interests lie in the intersection of postcolonial literature and the environmental humanities, particularly considering the idea of posthumanism in the Anthropocene through an affective lens.

Nicholas Green

Environment and Resources

Nicholas Green is interested in research and outreach to Christian communities, especially those within evangelical circles. His background is in environmental education and outdoor programs. Specifically, he is interested in the way experiences and participation in camps and service trips (mission trips) impacts attitudes toward the environment and environmental justice issues. His hope is to serve as a bridge between the sciences and Christian communities.

David Greenwood-Sanchez

Political Science

David is a PhD candidate in political science at UW-Madison. His research examines the politics of genetically modified crops in Peru and Mexico. He is especially interested in understanding the origins of governance over genetic resources, and the ways in which cultural politics influence regulatory decisions within this policy domain. He holds a BA in economics from Whitman College and an MPP from the University of Minnesota. David enjoys playing music (guitar and violin), and is a passionate potato enthusiast.

Carly Griffith


Carly Griffith is a geography PhD student and researches property law and inheritance practice in the rural Upper Midwest and Northern Great Plains. She is an editor for Edge Effects and leads a graduate writers’ group through CHE. She holds an MA in public humanities from Brown University and most recently worked at the Center for Cultural Landscapes at the University of Virginia.

Laura Grotjan

Art History

Laura Grotjan is a PhD student in the art history department. Her research focuses mainly on Midwestern vernacular architecture, the history of agricultural buildings, and the illustration of domesticated animals. She is interested in issues of obsolescence and preservation, and her MA thesis explores how these topics relate to agricultural landscapes. In addition to an MA in art history, Laura holds a bachelor of fine arts degree. She is a practicing artist who works primarily in oil paint.

Allison Hellenbrand

Civil Society and Community Studies

Allison is a PhD student in the School of Human Ecology, specializing in civil society and community research. Allison’s research interests are the relationships between agriculture, community development, and education. She is examining the intersections of marginalized communities and food systems and their impact on affecting sustainable sociopolitical and environmental change.

She hopes to examine the role that food (consumption and the means of production), faith (organized religion and spirituality), and fun (outdoor recreation and creative expression) play in fostering community building while simultaneously addressing environmental concerns.

Ryan Hellenbrand

Environment and Resources

Ryan Hellenbrand is a master’s student in the Nelson Institute’s Environment and Resources Program. His research examines the evolution of cultures of stewardship in the unique contexts of Wisconsin, specifically the intersecting cultural histories of forest management in Native American nations and the German development of scientific forestry. Ryan believes that understanding how myths, stories, and place-based knowledge intersect in the landscape can lead to a more equitable and sustainable natural resource management in a future shaped by climate change.

Elliot Hendry

Freshwater and Marine Sciences

Elliot loves wetlands, and as graduate student he is studying how wetlands of the Upper Midwest respond to changes in climate and fire. Elliot is interested in using both contemporary and paleo-ecological data to tell compelling natural history stories and to help guide ecological restoration practices. Elliot’s involvement with CHE derives from his love of both oral and written communication and the significance communication plays in challenging people to enjoy critical thinking and enabling people to think ecologically.

Addie Hopes


Addie Hopes is a PhD candidate in English at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and managing editor of Edge Effects. When she’s not writing a dissertation about documentary ecopoetry, she’s thinking about queer and feminist approaches to mermaids and speculative multispecies worlds. She holds an MFA in fiction from Brooklyn College, CUNY, and an MA in English from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

Justyn Huckleberry

Environment and Resources

Justyn Huckleberry is a PhD student in the Nelson Institute. Her primary research interests revolve around how access to fundamental resources, such as arable land, food, and clean air and water, changes. For her dissertation research, she is using concepts and tools from political ecology to understand how community access to resources changes after government-mandated relocations in the northern regions of Botswana.

Ben Iuliano

Integrative Biology/Zoology

Ben holds an MSc in agroecology and is currently a PhD student in the Department of Integrative Biology. He researches how we can make agricultural landscapes healthier for people and the rest of nature. Ben’s interests lie at the intersection of insect conservation, sustainable agriculture, and political ecology. Current projects focus on biological pest control in southern Wisconsin, seeking to understand the spatial, temporal, and social dynamics of this important ecosystem service.

Emery Jenson


Emery Jenson is a PhD student in literary studies at UW-Madison. Since graduating from Duke University in 2018, his research has focused on the philosophy of biology, scale and affect within the Anthropocene, and animal studies. He has recently been preoccupied with pigeons, specifically how pigeon biology, behavior, and cultural reception characterizes and collapses the binary logic that filters Western relationships with the environment.

Christopher Cañete Rodriguez Kelly


Christopher Cañete Rodriguez Kelly is a PhD student in literary studies. Though previously interested in psychoanalytic theories of anxiety in relation to the development of the United States, Christopher’s more recent research takes a critical look at media ecology, and the attendant shift in the sensorium endemic to network interaction. Though situated within media studies, this interdisciplinary work necessarily interrogates new and shifting delimitations of geographical space through network technology, asking what is gained and what is lost in our increasingly interconnected world.

Erin Kitchell


I am a graduate student in the geography department studying environment and development in West Africa. My current research focuses on histories of environmental change, the multiple vulnerabilities of small-scale producers, and the ways in which social networks shape knowledge formation about climatic variability. I will work closely with faculty in the Nelson Institute, agroecology, and community and environmental sociology.

I have a BA in history and a background in community-based programming for non-profits. My past experience includes working to integrate environmental education in public school programming, managing public health and land use planning campaigns in peri-urban Mali, and creating training curricula on gender and development issues.

John Koban


John Koban’s research explores the rhetorical relationships among people and their environments, considering the ways environmental activists and organizations, especially ones motivated by religious and spiritual conviction, communicate and interact with each other about the environment, in both local and abstract ways. Specifically, he is interested in developing and describing ecological rhetorical models that better allow practitioners, stakeholders, and skeptics to attune themselves to environments so that they may enjoy the risks and rewards of activism, sustainability, and a sense of interconnectedness with the earth.

He is a PhD student in the composition and rhetoric division of English department, and when he teaches introductory writing courses he does his best to infuse those courses with readings and writings attuned to environmental rhetoric and writing.

Liz Anna Kozik

Environment and Resources

Liz Anna Kozik is a PhD student in environment and resources at the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. She utilizes comics to tell stories of the Midwestern tallgrass prairie through its ecology, history, and ecological restoration. Her work ties a background in the arts (BFA Rhode Island School of Design 2011, MFA UW-Madison 2017) to academic research in the science, history, and culture of prairie restoration. She currently operates The Image Lab at the Wisconsin Institute of Discovery, focusing on environmental education, science communication, and arts-as-research.

Alexander Kris

Literary Studies

Alex Kris is a PhD student in literary studies. His research lies at the intersection of the environmental humanities, literary studies, and disability studies, exploring the ways that contemporary American novels, especially science fiction novels, narrativize the imbrication of human and nonhuman body-minds with physical, and social, space. He received an MA in modern and contemporary literature and culture from the University of York, and a BA in creative writing from the University of Arizona.

Marisa Lanker

Environment and Resources

Marisa Lanker is a PhD student in the Nelson Institute’s Environment and Resources Program. Her research interests include perennial and polyculture farming, social justice, biocultural diversity, indigenous ways of knowing, food sovereignty, multispecies narratives, decolonial agricultural movements, and participatory methods.

Currently, her blossoming research turns an eye to smallholder farmers in Guatemala, examining how differing narratives of indigeneity connect to distinct formations of agrobiodiversity and, in turn, inform food sovereignty outcomes. She holds an MS in agroecology from University of Wisconsin-Madison and a BA in international development from Ohio State University. When not researching, she is laughing or dancing or both.

Rebecca Laurent

Sociology, Community and Environmental Sociology

Rebecca Laurent (she/her/hers) is a PhD student in the Department of Sociology and Community and Environmental Sociology. Rebecca’s work is focused on environmental politics and (in)justice. In particular, she is interested in barriers to effective mitigation of the climate crisis, including the entanglement between oil and state, cultural hegemony of fossil fuels, and repression of environmental activism. Rebecca obtained a master’s degree in 2021 in natural resources and environmental sciences from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Her master’s thesis analyzed the criminalization of anti-pipeline protest in the United States and its effect on policing and resistance in southern Louisiana.

Laura Lawler


Laura is a PhD student in people-environment geography, studying political ecology, environmental governance, and agricultural systems. She received her MS in geography from UW-Madison in 2016 and BA from Sarah Lawrence College in 2008. Her master’s thesis was on agricultural entrepreneurial training for refugees resettling in the U.S., exploring questions about how “good” farming and farmers are enacted in these programs and resistance and diverse economies livelihood strategies among refugee farmers.

Her current research is on “climate smart” narratives and agriculture programming in East Africa. What counts as “climate smart,” why, and how do these impact farmers? She is also working on a collaborative interdisciplinary project in Uganda, “Mapping Hotspots: ‘One Health’ and the History of Infectious Disease Research.”

Jessica LeClair

Nursing, Nelson Institute

Jessica LeClair, MPH, RN, is a PhD student and clinical faculty member with the UW-Madison School of Nursing and holds an affiliate appointment with the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. LeClair co-chairs the Sustainable Madison Committee for the City of Madison, and previously worked as a public health nurse for Public Health Madison and Dane County. Her research interest explores nursing strategies that promote environmental justice in the context of planetary health.

Zhe Yu Lee


Zhe Yu Lee is a second-year MS student in the Department of Geography. His master’s research looks at the current politics of implementation around forest and land tenure policies in Indonesian province of North Sumatra, especially as it relates to the (un)changing nature of the forest and environment bureaucracies of the Indonesian state.

He has broader longer-term interests in historicizing the dominance of technocratic approaches in contemporary global environmental governance. In part, this entails exploring the relationship between the scientization of knowledges with regard to tropical agriculture, tropical forests and “the economy” during the early Cold War and Third World visions of nation-building and international order.

His primary theoretical interests include science and technology studies, political ecology, global environmental history, critical policy studies, critical international relations and critical development studies. He received his BA from Macalester College in 2015 with majors in geography and environmental studies.

Juniper Lewis


Juniper Lewis is a doctoral student in anthropology. Juniper’s research will explore the relationship between humans and the environment by examining ecotheology in action, that is, how modern Christian congregations relate to and interact with the environment in the United States. This research will be influenced not only by early Christian relations to the environment and ideas of wilderness but also by a look at the variation of these relations across Abrahamic religions as well as shifting American values of the environment and wilderness. These influences will allow for a nuanced look into modern ecotheology among Christians and provide a firm background on the subject.

Weishun Lu


Weishun Lu is a PhD candidate in the English department (literary studies). Her research interests are contemporary American poetry and performance, critical race studies, and affect theory. She examines how poets of color diverge from sentimental narratives in engaging racial injustice in the U.S. In addition, her research explores how comedy re-routes activist affects. Lu also serves on the editorial board of Edge Effects, and she is particularly interested in the intersection between environmental justice and racial justice.

Emma Lundberg

Environment and Resources

Emma Lundberg is a PhD student in the Environment and Resources Program through the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at University of Wisconsin–Madison. Her dissertation research focuses on identifying and deconstructing settler logics that permeate through natural resource management. She uses social and ecological research approaches to understand river restoration and interactions among beaver and salmonid species and their management.

Sabrina Manero


Sabrina is a literary studies PhD student in the English department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Having been involved in animal education from a young age at both the Bruce Museum and the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk, she aims to continue exploring conservation education.

Since completing her BA in English at Tufts University in 2018, her research has been centered on theories of species extinction and evolution in the 19th century. She is currently interested in how public perception and understanding of conservation biology rhetoric impacts the potentiality of conservation efforts.

Cathleen McCluskey


Cathleen McCluskey is a master’s student in the agroecology program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is developing tools to advance farmer-centric seed systems that are democratic, economically and environmentally sound, and driven by public plant breeding. Her interests include public policy, intellectual property rights, industry concentration, and public plant breeding systems.

Her research focuses on agrobiodiversity and the importance of defining and monitoring germplasm resources using an applied agroecological framework. She finds her on-campus intellectual community among her fellow multidisciplinary students in the agroecology community.

Caroline McCraw


Caroline McCraw (she/her/hers) is a graduate student in the English department’s literary studies program. Her work is concerned with digital + [textuality, poetics, publication, labor], and considers the relationship between our digital and ecological homes. Caroline is part of a team working on Dickinson’s Birds: A Public Listening Project, which reconstructs the ecological and sonic context of Emily Dickinson’s poetry through a digital interaction of manuscripts, birdsongs, and community listening practices. View more of her work

Siddharth Menon


Siddharth Menon is a critical architect and human geographer of the built environment. His dissertation research looks at an ethnography of concrete as a building construction material in peri-urban Kochi, Kerala to highlight the macro and micro processes through which concrete is becoming a dominant and ubiquitous building material across rural and peri-urban India. Siddharth is also affiliated with the Center for South Asia and the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies.

Bri Meyer


Bri Meyer earned her BA in anthropology and English from Augustana College in 2017. She is currently a PhD student in cultural anthropology at UW-Madison with a minor in CHE, working on co-species ethnography in the American Saddlebred show horse community, of which she has been a lifelong member. Her specific research interests in this area include multi-species, multi-sensory language, collaborative movement, and embodiment. She is also extremely invested in discussions on the theory of ethnographic writing, and how the “genre” of ethnography relates to and differs from other genres of literature.

Sirkka Miller

Civil Society and Community Research

Sirkka is a doctoral student in civil society and community research at the School of Human Ecology. Her research centers grassroots community organizing, transnational struggles for climate justice and decolonization, and the commons. Sirkka graduated from New York University in 2017 with a BA in history and sociology, focusing her studies on grassroots social movements in the United States. Her undergraduate thesis traced the emergence of the environmental justice movement in the U.S., zeroing in on the relationship between community empowerment and societal responsiveness to environmental issues.

Rudy Molinek


Rudy Molinek is a PhD student in the Department of Geoscience, where his research focuses on reconstructing ancient sea level change. Further, he’s interested in pursuing the following questions about how we relate to the world beneath our feet: How do landscapes formed over geologic time scales shape us, our cultures, and our societies? How are we now shaping those landscapes in return? How can we enhance the public understanding of this relationship? He holds a BA in geology from Carleton College and an MS in earth sciences from the University of Minnesota, and previously spent several years teaching first through fourth grade in Missoula, Montana.

Kaitlin Moore


Kaitlin Moore (they/them) is a third-year PhD student in literary studies and a Kohler Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery. Their interdisciplinary work is situated within the environmental humanities, with particular emphasis placed on using cosmology and quantum mechanics as inquiries into literary practices that actively destabilize the static, bordered, and linear framings that typify anthropocentric studies of space and time.

Samm Newton


After several years as an environmental professional and educator, Samm earned an MA from Oregon State University through the environmental arts and humanities program. As an NSF fellow there, she also minored in risk and uncertainty quantification and communication in marine systems.

She is currently a first-year PhD student in the history of science, medicine, and technology. Her work focuses on coupled marine-human systems, specifically the relationships between science and technology, petrochemical culture, and slow violence in contemporary history.

Samm is an artist in addition to her work at UW-Madison and hopes to blend her scholarly and creative practices.

Travis Olson

Art History

Travis Olson is a PhD student in the Department of Art History’s buildings-landscapes-cultures program interested in material culture, the built environment, and a specialization in American vernacular landscapes. He is focused on the myriad ways that humans shape their environment and that the environment shapes human experience. Research interests include the architectural history of agricultural landscapes and the architecture of leisure and recreation, including the parks movement, resort culture, summer camps, and country estates.

Cyra Polizzi

Gender and Women’s Studies

Cyra K. Polizzi is a graduate student in the gender and women’s studies department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Using a transdisciplinary approach, Cyra is developing an accessible, sustainable, feminist theatre practice. Cyra completed their undergraduate work at UW-Madison with a BA in theatre and drama as an acting specialist, an environmental studies certificate, and a women’s studies certificate.

Amanda Pratt


Amanda’s research is informed by her academic background in physical geography, environmental science, and writing. Her research trajectory is aimed at better understanding the rhetorical and ethical landscape of psychedelics within and without officially sanctioned western science.

To this end, she collaborates with a group of interdisciplinary researchers and stakeholders to understand the expanding relevance of psychedelics in clinical, political, and economic contexts — while also intervening to center reciprocity with indigenous psychedelic cultures; support indigenous survivance, preservation, and self-determination; and advocate for the preservation of biodiversity upon which these cultures (and psychedelic compounds) rely.

Prerna Rana

Civil Society and Community Research

Prerna Rana (she/her/hers) is a PhD student in the Civil Society and Community Research program (School of Human Ecology). Her research interests center around the intersecting themes of gender empowerment, community development, and food justice in rural India. She is interested in understanding the community perspectives that shape current practices in rural food systems and the ways in which collective action can create systemic change.

Before coming to UW-Madison, Prerna worked with grassroots community institutions in rural regions of eastern and central India. Her work comprised planning, implementation, and evaluation of projects related to financial inclusion, sustainable agriculture, and institution development.

Johs Rasmussen


Johs Rasmussen is a PhD student in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s English department. Broadly defined, his research explores reading practices in contemporary reading communities (both domestic and transnational) that self-identify as conservative or right-wing. His methodological and theoretical outlook comprises archival research, cultural sociology, postwar social philosophy from Germany (especially the third-wave Frankfurt School), and ethnography, as well as modes of investigation that are more firmly rooted in the discipline of literary studies. He wants to bring his burgeoning interest in environmental changes and ecological relationships to bear on his various research projects.

Jules Reynolds

Geography, Environment and Resources

Jules is a PhD student in geography and environment and resources. She is interested in the political ecology of maize in Malawi and exploring agroecological movements through a multispecies ethnography lens. Jules completed her MS in agroecology at UW-Madison, and is a member of The LAND (Livelihoods, Agroecology, Nutrition, and Development) Project on campus.

Anika Rice


Anika Rice is a graduate student in geography studying agroecology, gender and migration in a changing climate. She received her BA in geography from UC Berkeley in 2014 and has since worked as a feminist outdoor educator and farm curriculum writer in the Bay Area. In 2016 she completed a project titled “Migration, Women and Coffee Production: Changing roles on Guatemalan and Nicaraguan farms” as a National Geographic Early Career Grantee. In her free time she enjoys weaving, fermenting, and learning about the plant world.

Hugh Roland

Environment and Resources

Hugh Roland is a PhD student in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. He is also a sociology minor and an affiliate of the Center for Demography and Ecology. His research interests include climate change related human migration, health disparities, and issues of power and structural inequality.

Before attending UW Madison, he worked in public health policy and economic justice advocacy in the Bay Area and received an MA in international history from the London School of Economics, where he studied anticolonial movements.

Angela Serrano


As a PhD student in sociology Angela Serrano studies the financialization of agriculture. She is particularly interested in how the transformation of landscapes by farmers and financial actors shapes their access to land, and the ecosystems involved.

Before coming to UW-Madison she completed a master’s in geography at King’s College London. Her thesis focused on how global avocado trade shapes landscapes and livelihood possibilities for farmers in Santander, Colombia, her home region. Her curiosity for agriculture and its fruits also takes the form of a passion for cooking and exploring produce markets.

Kassia Shaw


Kassia Shaw is a PhD student in composition and rhetoric. Her research interests consider how place-based environmental narratives simultaneously reflect and shape identity, especially within cultural and social justice contexts. How can writing about nature change our perception of ourselves and our world? Who is excluded or erased from these conversations, and to what effect? Can writing environmental narratives heal the body? She is further interested in ways that indigenous spaces shape the literacies of ongoing colonization narratives within medicine, science and technology. She holds a BA and MA in English from DePaul University in Chicago.

Grace Simbulan

Southeast Asian Studies

Grace Simbulan is a graduate student in the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at UW-Madison. Her research explores the pressures, counter pressures, and negotiations that lead to the adoption of projects, policies, and laws for Indigenous women and children in the Philippines.

She is also a filmmaker whose creative works reflect her commitment to center and support the struggles of Indigenous, Black, and Brown women. She aims to interrupt oppression through her films and videos that combine decolonial practices with impact-oriented storytelling.

Clare Sullivan


Clare Sullivan is a PhD student in the Department of Geography and studies agricultural change and drivers of tropical deforestation. She is interested in mixed-methods approaches to understanding complex socioecological systems. Her dissertation will focus on the impact of different climate governance policies on landscapes and farmers in Colombia. She holds a master’s in international affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

Abby Tekiela

Water Resources Management

Abigail Tekiela (she/her) is a graduate student studying water resources management (WRM) with the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at UW–Madison. She received her BA in comprehensive environmental geography in May 2021 from the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire.

Her graduate practicum is a collaborative effort amongst the WRM graduate cohort, UW faculty, and the Brotherton Tribal Nation. Her work is focused on investigating water quality and quantity in the Lake Winnebago system to revitalize and restore native wild rice beds.

Matthew Trew


As a long-time resident of one of America’s most popular tourist destinations — Myrtle Beach, South Carolina — I grew up constantly surrounded by beachwear stores, neon lights, and more than my fair share of tourist traps. It’s no surprise, then, that as a PhD student in anthropology, I focus on themed spaces, tourism, and symbolic economies.

More specifically, I take inspiration Disneyland’s famous Jungle Cruise attraction, which is partially based on the ruins of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, to study how thematic landscapes attract tourists to Southeast Asia, with a primary focus on the province of Battambang in Cambodia. I also am very interested in the relationship between tourism and pilgrimage, and in comparing foreign tourists to how and why local Cambodians visit important sites around the nation.

I’m happy to be part of CHE and the overarching humanitarian quest to show that … it’s a small world after all. Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Ruth Trumble


I am a PhD student in geography with interests in political geography, feminist theory, and people-environment relations. My research explores the relationship between environmental disasters and peace-building initiatives in post-conflict areas. My previous research examined the agency of artists who create art outside of global art market demands.

Jessica Turner

Freshwater and Marine Science

Jess grew up in upstate New York surrounded by good pizza, great basketball, and amazing football. She earned her bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering before attending UW-Madison for her master’s degree in environment and resources. She is currently working toward a PhD in freshwater and marine science with a focus on wetland gas exchange, which has potential implications for policymaking, environmental management, and climate modeling. The study focus of her PhD minor in CHE is the impact of green-grabbing on Afro-descendant and indigenous communities.

Stepha Velednitsky


Stepha Velednitsky is a master’s student working with Drs. Jenna Loyd and Sarah Moore in the Department of Geography. Her research draws on political geography, postcolonial theory, and political ecology to situate Israel’s computer chip manufacturing industry within the region’s landscapes of labor, water, and power. She is also pursuing a minor in science and technology studies with the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies.

William Voinot-Baron


William Voinot-Baron is a PhD candidate in cultural anthropology. He was raised on the traditional homelands of the Duwamish, Puget Sound Salish, and sdukʷalbixʷ, and he lives currently on the traditional homelands of the Ho-Chunk, Kiikaapoi, Peoria, Sauk and Meskwaki, Miami, and Očeti Šakówiŋ.

William’s dissertation is an ethnographic examination of the ways in which salmon are central both to understandings and practices of care in an Alaska Native (Yupiaq) village in southwest Alaska. Engaging with the entanglement of Yupiaq and salmon lives, his research extends thinking on care beyond clinical and human domains.

William has received support from the National Science Foundation, the Graduate School at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the Mellon Foundation, among other sources. He holds an MA in anthropology from Columbia University and a BA in anthropology and environmental studies from Bowdoin College.

Madi Whaley

Gender and Women’s Studies

Madi Whaley is a first-year MA student in GWS interested in queer, futurist thought at the intersections of food, ecology, and justice. Prior to grad school, they worked on an organic veggie farm on Abenaki land in so-called Vermont. There, they helped with community-based food projects such as Moon & Stars Arepas, as well as programming for their local Pride. Their work is influenced by queer ecologies; queer-, Afro-, and Indigenous futurisms; the storytelling power of food and plants; and the many lovely queer gardeners, farmers, and food enthusiasts that they’ve had the pleasure of communing with.

Richelle Wilson

German, Nordic, and Slavic

Richelle Wilson is a PhD candidate in the Department of German, Nordic, and Slavic at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Her dissertation is an interdisciplinary analysis of IKEA as a site of Swedish nationalism and her broad research interests include contemporary literature and film, labor studies, and public humanities. She is the Edge Effects managing editor and works as a podcast producer (Collegeland), talk radio producer (WORT-FM 89.9), and freelance academic editor.

Pearly Wong

Anthropology, Environment and Resources

Pearly Wong is a Fulbright grantee and a Joint PhD student with the Department of Anthropology and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. Prior to coming to Madison, she has worked with grass-root organizations and UN agencies in projects of non-formal education, sustainable housing and climate change adaptation with communities in Nepal, Cameroon, Indonesia and Sri Lanka.

With a background in international development, her current interest is on what constitute environmental justice for communities in different ecological and political economy contexts. She is also an avid traveler with experiences in 40 countries.

Garret Zastoupil

Civil Society and Community Studies

Garret is a PhD student in the School of Human Ecology: Civil Society and Community Research. His research focuses on how rural community-based organizations can use knowledge production and partnerships with colleges and universities to create social change and self-determination. His teaching and research interests led him to engage with the Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies, the Morgridge Center for Public Service, and the American Indian Studies Program.